For the second straight day at the Women's College World Series, Florida faced a team it owned a losing record against in an otherwise brilliant 2015 season.
For the second straight day, the Gators got vengeance, with a 4-0 victory — and were powered by brilliance from Lauren Haeger.
Haeger threw her second consecutive complete game in Oklahoma City, scattering five hits against a Tigers lineup that mauled Florida for 27 runs in a series in Gainesville this March. And she sent another souvenir to the stands, too, opening Florida's scoring for the day with a two-run homer in the fifth inning that made her the first player in Division I softball history to slam 70 home runs and post 70 wins.
Her 71st win came on this night, as she mixed speeds and varied locations beautifully to keep LSU from mounting a sustained attack. Haeger only allowed two hits after the first inning, when she appeared shaky, giving up three straight singles to begin the game. But Haeger induced grounders, including one that led to an excellent double play by shortstop Katie Medina, to get out of that bases-loaded jam, and finished the game by retiring the final eight LSU batters.
Haeger's homer was a breakthrough on a night that was frustrating at the plate for the Gators. Before she connected, Florida had left nine batters on base on the evening, and left the bases loaded in the first inning for the second straight game. After that, though, Florida scratched out two more insurance runs, on a Nicole DeWitt homer in the sixth and a Kirsti Merritt dash to the dish on an errant throw in the seventh ... and still left two more runners on in the final frame.
This is how good Florida has been at this Women's College World Series: The Gators have left 21 runners on base through two games, and scored just five earned runs (with their other five coming thanks to various miscues by Thursday opponent Tennessee and LSU) — but they're still 2-0, and look very much poised to repeat as national champions.
And bats belonging to hitters other than Haeger could very well wake up and join the proceedings in Oklahoma City; Florida has been streaky in its offensive performance all year, with both eruptions and dormancy common.
A timely hit parade could turn the Gators' time in the Sooner State into a coronation.